Monday, April 4, 2011
Thursday, December 23, 2010
"You're a great spokesperson, " said a fellow coal fighter to me about a month ago. "We're counting on you."
Somehow I have more recently emerged as one of the local leaders against Big Coal. When there is an event, I help organize it. A press conference, I help host it. Comments needed by the local paper, I provide one.
So, when someone was needed to go to Austin, yet again, to represent West Texas...I did it.
Through shakes, shivers, sweats and butterflies I managed to make a four-minute speech before the Sunset Advisory Committee [at the Capitol building] headed up by a Texas Senator.
Once per decade Texas agencies undergo a Sunset Review. It is a time for public involvement regarding the positive and negative aspects of these agencies and the changes that are seen as necessary. With our more recent dealings with the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality)---who, the day before I testified had granted Tenaska their air permit---and the obvious fact that it is quite corrupt, it was quite fitting that I speak on behalf of all those people who could not make the trip to Austin. There was only one chance on one day to give my public statement, and I felt it necessary. I waited from 8:30 am....and finally gave my statement just after 8:00 pm.
After stating the necessaries---my name, where I live, who I represent---I began my testimony:
I am here tonight on behalf of all these people to assert to you what we have found to be quite obvious. The TCEQ is not working for the people of Texas; the everyday, hard-working citizens of Texas.....
"You have no idea how proud of you I am right now," whispered one of my allies immediately after.
"That was one of the best speeches I've heard here," stated another.
This fight has forced me to do things I never thought I was capable of. Speeches before the EPA-- Senators-- Representatives-- Suits? Press conferences? Newspaper interviews? TV News interviews?
But I believe something good can emerge from even the worst of situations. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be fighting a multi-billion dollar corporation in a west Texas town. Fighting the 'Good Ole' Boys', the 'Town Fathers' and all the industry goons.
It's little me against them.
...And I actually kind-of like it.
I now understand the pull....the desire to help others, even though the hours are long and the pay minimal. At the end of the day, if you can feel good about what you have done, it makes the effort worth far more.
I continue to stand up for the people who will be adversly affected by this potential coal-plant...and they are starting to notice.
But even if they didn't...
It feels good to do something selfless and good. To speak for those who feel they have no voice.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
To me, the choice is obvious. And to nearly 300 of us who attended the hearing in Dallas in favor of Subtitle C, the choice is simple. Coal ash is hazardous. There is seemingly no way around that fact.
My fight with Big Coal has changed who I am in more ways than one. With a coal plant threatening to be built about 1.5 miles from my home, I now know just what it feels like to be in such a horrendous position. I, essentially, know what it feels like to be a minority...to be dumped on by the rest of society. It's an awful feeling at best. I can't say that I have ever, in my life, been exactly fond of people or the human race in general, but fighting this fight has made me wonder if my future should involve the defense of the poor and utterly helpless.
Public speaking, while I don't do it too often, has been forced upon me as well. Everyone who hears me compliments me. "You're a fantastic speaker!" they say. "You sound so cool and calm," they suggest. Inside, I shake. I think I might faint. Then, apparently, I do a fabulous job.
I forced myself to speak at the Dallas public hearing and I'm glad I did it. I can honestly say that I walked away with a feeling of completeness....like I had just done something for the good of all humanity. A feeling that I had served my country well.
"My name is Whitney Root and I am here as a representative of the Multi-County Coalition, a non-profit organization based in Sweetwater, Texas working to stop construction of the proposed Tenaska Trailblazer Energy Center. Along with about 700 individuals around the Big Country Area, the City of Trent, the City of Hawley and the Texas Farmers' Union are members of our organization.
We are at a point in history where debate over coal products should no longer be an issue. Study upon study confirms that coal ash contains any number of poisonous materials including, but not limited to: mercury, cadmium, arsenic, cobalt and lead. Mercury is one of the deadliest elements on the planet. Arsenic is a potent poison. Cobalt is a carcinogen.
In as much as science provides proof beyond question, there should be no hesitation for the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate this waste for what it is--HAZARDOUS.
Any further debate over the issue simply stalls, once again, the day of reckoning when the truth be told--coal products and bi-products are threatening to human life and therefore, by definition, HAZARDOUS.
It is high time for the Environmental Protection Agency to do what its title suggests it do--protect American citizenry against hazards such as coal ash. Failure to do so would only constitute a further, cynical delay of doing what is right and just.
For well over a century energy companies have reaped enormous profits because they have been able to ignore environmental and human concerns. It is time for the pendulum to swing back, part way at least, to We the People--the inhabitants of this environment. It is the only environment we have ad it must be protected.
And that, my friends, is your job.
Ansel Adams is quoted as saying, "it is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." Please don't hesitate to do what you know is right; what is right for the American People. Coal ash must be regulated under the stricted standards available. It is a hazardous waste and must be treated as such."
The day before our hearing, our billboard was hung! I'm so proud! I can't believe all that we have done---we're fighting an energy company with little to speak of for funding...and we're doing a damn good job of it.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
It went, in part, to my beloved garden. I spent many hours tending to my cucumbers, my basil and my peppers. I decided, without question, that my 'perfect life' would involve a greenhouse, many herbs and ample veggies. Plants simply bring me joy.
In May we held a Town Hall event in Abilene. Nearly 100 people were in attendance.
July brought a Town Hall event in Sweetwater, where the fight has returned most recently. This meeting was attended by about 70 people.
Very little of my summer was spent helping myself. In May I was able to go to an archaeological field school in the panhandle.
And in late July I escaped (finally) on a camping trip to Caprock Canyon State Park and Palo Duro Canyon State Park. I had declined an internship at the latter earlier in the summer due to a commitment to fighting Tenaska and my father's illness.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
A look at the back of the bag suggests that, in about 13 weeks, there will be a complete "breakdown into compost." Now, it also mentions that this will occur in "a hot, active home or industrial compost pile."
Saturday, April 24, 2010
What's not to enjoy?